Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) has shown to influence cognitive processes like memory, learning and mood. It's a protein that helps regulate the synapses and survival of neurons in the brain to improve overall cognition.
In relation, nootropics for BDNF may help initiate its production in the brain to optimize cognition. In this guide, we'll explain how BDNF affects brainpower and how brain-boosting nootropics may help to activate it.
What is Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor?
BDNF is a neurotrophic protein supporting the maintenance and survival of neurons, especially within the central and peripheral nervous systems. In other words, it helps with neurogenesis (the growth of cells) and cell regulation to cultivate cognition and behavior.
The BDNF protein is known to target the synapses of neurons especially to promote neuroplasticity, and more specifically, "synaptic plasticity." It also helps moderate the excitability of neurons to regulate reactions to stimuli.
All in all, BDNF helps keep cells communicating effectively. It also keeps them resistant to death and injury.
What is Synaptic Plasticity?
Synaptic plasticity describes the effectiveness of communication between two cell synapses. Really, it's their ability to adapt.
Synapses tend to strengthen and weaken over time in reaction to stimuli. This plastic-like quality allows cell synapses to communicate effectively, which helps maintain cognitive balance.
- For example, one study says the adaptation capacity of synapses is a key element in memory storage and formation.<1>
Synapses are a means of communication for neurons.
They communicate with each other at various frequencies depending on the stimuli that cause the communication. In the end, we may be prompted to carry out an action, or not, depending on the strength of our synaptic connections.
How Does BDNF Affect Cognition?
BDNF helps maintain cognitive balance by supporting neural synapses and neurogenesis. These effects can help us maintain memory, learning and mood. We'll explain how below.
BDNF is known to play a vital role in long-term memory and long-term potentiation. Long-term potentiation is "a form of synaptic plasticity that is widely considered a cellular model of long-term memory."
More specifically, long-term potentiation describes the long-term strengthening of synapses between neurons. It plays a big part in memory formation and retrieval in the hippocampus. Thus, studies show increasing BDNF can be helpful for memory maintenance.
- For example, one study shows that "manipulating BDNF pathways" may help counteract age-related memory decline and other issues.<2>
- Yet another shows BDNF is a crucial factor for long-term memory storage.
We can define learning as our capacity to obtain new knowledge. Since BDNF is important for long-term memory storage and retrieval, it is also important for learning.
You see, learning and memory are intimately intertwined in the brain and body. Specifically, improvements in learning require adequate memory storage and retrieval.
- One animal study shows that increasing BDNF levels improved learning significantly when animals were faced with various learning and memory tasks.
- Studies further showed that BDNF actually stimulates "cortical cells" and prevents their death. This helps improve learning and memory.
- In addition, neurogenesis, or the creation of new neurons, has shown to play a vital role in acquiring new knowledge and motor processes.
Mood problems have been linked to issues with neuronal plasticity and low BDNF. As such, increasing BDNF may be helpful in relieving mood problems.
- Clinical studies show that low BDNF is associated with severe mood issues.<3>
- In addition, mood-altering medicines have shown to increase neuroplasticity, neurogenesis and BDNF, which indicates BDNF's possible role in reversing mood issues
- Another study confirms this conclusion, stating that "new agents capable of enhancing BDNF" may help patients experiencing mood issues.
Mind Lab Pro® Nootropics for BDNF
Mind Lab Pro®'s all natural nootropics may help to increase BDNF in the brain to strengthen learning, memory, mood and stress regulation. Read on for details and studies on the best nootropics for BDNF.
Maritime Pine Bark Extract
Maritime Pine Bark Extract may promote the production of BDNF in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.
- One study shows that flavonoids, which are antioxidant nootropics found in Pine Bark Extract, may be what initiates this BDNF production.
- As such, pine bark extract may increase support for neural synapses and plasticity in these brain regions, ultimately providing benefits to our ability to remember information, learn and maintain a balanced mood. However, more research should be done to confirm this.
L-Theanine is a natural nootropic found in green tea. It has proven to manipulate BDNF, which may mediate mood problems and help improve cognition. However, we're not exactly sure how it does so.
- One study shows L-Theanine supplements may indeed manipulate BDNF to induce mood-balancing effects.
- Another confirms that BDNF levels may play a role in the positive mood-balance effects of L-Theanine.<4>
- Yet another, separate in vivo study shows that L-Theanine can "upregulate the protein levels of BDNF" in the hippocampus of mice brains.
- This suggests L-Theanine may be associated with memory formation in the hippocampus via BDNF production.
Bacopa Monnieri may be another efficient nootropic for increasing BDNF in the brain.
- For example, one study shows Bacopa Monnieri may "selectively increase" BDNF levels in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex of animal brains.
- Seeing as Bacopa Monnieri is known for its mood-balancing effects, the same study suggests that the BDNF increase may play a part in these positive effects.
The active ingredient in Rhodiola Rosea has also been associated with increases in BDNF in early studies.
- For instance, one in vitro study shows that Salidroside, the active ingredient in Rhodiola Rosea, was linked to increases in BDNF and positive effects on mood balance. However, further research should be done to confirm this.
Raise BDNF Even More with Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercise is one of the best natural ways to increase BDNF for cognition.
- Studies show that exercise significantly increases BDNF in the brain.
- However, the level of increase may depend on the intensity and duration of the exercise.
- Specifically, one study of young healthy men concluded that long-term endurance exercise increased BDNF in the brain.
- Another confirmed that aerobic exercise in healthy young males indeed caused an increase in BDNF.<5>
Mind Lab Pro®'s Universal Nootropic™ design enhances whole-brain health -- including Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) for sharp, healthy cognition.
- Specifically, Mind Lab Pro® may help increase BDNF levels to boost neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, which in turn may positively influence cognitive processes like memory, learning and mood, in addition to supporting healthy brain structure.
Mind Lab Pro® nootropics for BDNF may be especially beneficial for those experiencing symptoms of cognitive decline associated with aging, because healthy BDNF levels are associated with a more positive long-range brain health outlook.
- Takeuchi T et al .The synaptic plasticity and memory hypothesis: encoding, storage and persistence. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2014 Jan 5; 369(1633): 20130288.
- Lu b et al. BDNF and synaptic plasticity, cognitive function, and dysfunction. Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2014;220:223-50.
- Lee B-L and Kim Y-K. The Roles of BDNF in the Pathophysiology of Major Depression and in Antidepressant Treatment. Psychiatry Investig. 2010 Dec; 7(4): 231–235.
- Wakabayashi C et al. Behavioral and molecular evidence for psychotropic effects in L-theanine. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2012 Feb;219(4):1099-109.
- Schmoletsky MT et al.The Effects of Aerobic Exercise Intensity and Duration on Levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor in Healthy Men. J Sports Sci Med. 2013 Sep; 12(3): 502–511.